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FRANCIS OF ASSISI. William R. Cook. Michael Glazier, Inc. [Now distributed by Liturgical Press]. Wilmington, De. 1989. 135pp.

Dr. Cook, presently a professor at the State University of New York at Geneseo, has taught and lectured on St. Francis throughout the U.S., and has directed summer seminars in Assisi on Francis' life for the National Endowment for the Humanities. This book is not another biography of Francis, but in a series being published on Christian mystics. Dealing with the spirituality of place--such as his chapters on Greccio and LaVerna--he makes it known we are dealing with a unique form of mysticism called the mysticism of the historical event. The book makes for fine spiritual reading and is recommended for friary or convent libraries.

SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, Raoul Manselli. Franciscan Herald Press, 1988, 363pp.

This book has already been reviewed in a previous issue of Newsletter. I include this brief note to underscore its value as a reference for any of us working/speaking of Francis or Clare. Manselli writes: "Our attempt has been to liberate his biography from anecdotal incrustations which tend to accentuate characteristics, singularities, and marvels at the expense of things that are historically and humanly more valid and meaningful. Freed from such overlay, his biography displays [Francis'] personality...." It is recommended for all  libraries.

ASSISI: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ST. FRANCIS, by Theophile Desbonnets, OFM, translated by Nancy Celaschi, OSF; Editione Porziuncola, second edition, 1993, 141pp.

This little book is an excellent companion to walk the way of Francis with Desbonnets as guide. A Franciscan scholar from France, Desbonnets (RIP), leads the pilgrim to the places, explains them briefly with ample references to the Franciscan sources included in the text. He includes diagrams of the sanctuaries accompanied as well by several well-placed maps. He includes information on places outside Assisi, such as the Abbey of San Benedetto, Gubbio, Cannara, Bevagna, Montefalco, Foligno, the Rieti Valley, Monte Casale, LaVerna.  It has all a pilgrim would desire to prayerfully as well as historically visit Assisi in Francis' footsteps.

The Franciscans, William Short, OFM. Michael Glazier, Inc. [Now distributed by  Liturgical Press]. Wilmington, De. 1989. 152pp.

This work by Bill Short provides us with a compact survey of the history of the entire Franciscan Order. It is a summary  of  the  Order's  development  down  through the centuries that provides a good introduction to those reading this history for the first time. It whets the appetite to pursue this history further, perhaps by reading a work like Duncan Nimmo's REFORM AND DIVISION IN THE MEDIEVAL FRANCISCAN ORDER, (Rome: Capuchin Historical Institute, 1987). Bill's chapter on "The Franciscan Spirit" is a gem in its description of "the spiritual environment in which it (the Franciscan family) lives and grows, and the climate it creates around itself." Bill concludes: "In these pages I have assembled a series of snapshots, pieces of a family portrait, that of the Franciscans." He has indeed succeeded in doing just that. Recommended for course work for Secular Franciscan fraternities as well as for friary libraries.


This book would be a sine qua non for the summary it gives of the biblical and Franciscan understanding of penance, the origins of the penitents from the third century up to the time of Francis. Besides his development on how Francis himself became a penitent, Pazzelli has an excellent treatment on the First Letter to All the Faithful (Recensio Prior--the Volterra text) as well as the later or second version of the Letter to All the Faithful. "The Letter to all the Faithful could have undergone a development similar to that of the RNB (also known as the Earlier Rule) of 1221. As we know, the RNB is the result of that Protoregula of 1209 (1210). . . .In the same way, Francis could have added to and modified this Volterra text until he had the long or final edition, the Letter to All the Faithful." Anyone who works with TOR communities or SFO fraternities will appreciate his work on these two texts. Pazzelli's writing on both is solid research presented clearly and succinctly. Definitely recommended for SFO spiritual assistants, friary, convent and SFO libraries.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FRANCISCAN FAMILY. Damien Vorreau, OFM and Aaron Pembleton, OFM. Franciscan Herald Press. Chicago, Il. 1989. 110pp.

In the words of the authors, this is a "rapid overview of the history of the Order. For the most part, we have stressed people and institutions. . . ." As a survey of Franciscan history, the authors go through every century down to the twentieth, presenting primarily a survey history of the first order with glimpses into the other branches. It is recommended for SFO and friary and convent libraries.

FRANCIS OF ASSISI AND THE FRANCISCAN MOVEMENT. David Flood, OFM. The Franciscan Institute of Asia. Quezon City, Philippines. 1989. 173pp.

Anyone who has ever read David Flood's writings or heard him speak will know that David approaches early Franciscan history almost exclusively from the writings of Francis. David, a former student and later colleague of Kajetan Esser, OFM, says:  "The study of Franciscan history begins with an analysis of the basic document (the Early Rule). For the text manifests the intelligence in which Francis and his brothers fashioned the action called the Franciscan movement. That action differed sharply and consciously from the action prescribed by Assisi for its citizens. . . .The Early Rule throws open the door on the early Franciscan years. In the phrases of its development, in the variety of its themes, it offers itself to us as an oracle ready to answer all our questions. We have but to put the questions well. It is better than an oracle.  It abhors ambiguity." In four chapters David formulates fascinating questions and the Early Rule has equally fascinating responses. The book has a unique approach to our early history. It is highly recommended for serious study or course work, for reflection, and for all SFO and friary or convent libraries. It can be ordered from The Franciscan Institute of Asia, P.O. Box AC 570 Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines.